Eliot Spitzer is a wimp.

Eliot Spitzer is a wimp.

Commentary about business and finance.
May 21 2004 7:19 PM

Eliot Spitzer, Wimp

Why the New York attorney general isn't strong-arming white-collar shysters.

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So, why isn't Spitzer driving tougher bargains? Cases involving capital markets and securities trading are complex. Trying to persuade a jury that market-timing is criminal and not merely sleazy would be particularly difficult. As we've seen with Dennis Kozlowski and Frank Quattrone, prosecutors run the risk of an acquittal or a hung jury. Easier to declare victory, cash the settlement check, and move on. What's more, the wheels of white-collar justice turn remarkably slowly. The trial of the executives accused of perpetrating a massive fraud against HFS (now Cendant) in 1997 is just getting under way. Spitzer, who's on the fast track for the 2006 governor's race, doesn't want to be filing discovery motions when he could be shaking hands in Utica.

Daniel Gross is a longtime Slate contributor. His most recent book is Better, Stronger, Faster. Follow him on Twitter.

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